Youngsters off to flying start thanks to scheme
THOUSANDS of youngsters from across Swansea are now getting off to a flying start.
Swansea Council and its partners have been putting Welsh Government funding to work to offer vital support to families including childcare, health visiting, parenting programmes and language and play through the Flying Start programme.
Last year alone more than 1,430 youngsters were supported across the school catchment areas of Townhill, Seaview, Blaenymaes, Portmead, Clwyd, Hafod, Waun Wen and Pentrechwyth.
Mums benefiting from this at the Flying Start Centre in Blaenymaes had little doubt that it was making a difference to their children's lives.
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Natasha Smith, whose two- year-old daughter Keira Hartnoll is currently attending Butterflies childcare scheme as part of Flying Start, said: "Flying Start is a good opportunity for children aged two. It's helped Keira come along in her development and to learn to play and interact with other children."
Lucy Hill's daughter Lacey Sollis, 2, is also attending Butterflies.
She said: "The staff in Flying Start have helped Lacy come out of her shell. They provide a lot of activities that's made Lacey confident and independent. The staff also help with potty training and other things which are a great help in preparing for school."
William Evans, Cabinet member for learning and skills, said: "By investing in our very young we are investing in our and their futures. Kick-starting their development will have a positive impact on their whole lives giving them equality in life chances to children in less deprived areas.
"Flying Start has already made a valuable contribution to the lives of many young children across the authority and I am looking forward to seeing the programme being taken forward in future years."
At the core of the programme is quality childcare for children aged from two years old which aims to help prepare them for school with language, play and social skills.
Provision for Welsh-medium childcare and accessible childcare for children with disabilities are also provided. It also frees up parents to access services to improve their parenting skills and support towards employment.
This week Health Minister Lesley Griffiths and Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services Gwenda Thomas visited the Flying Start Centre at Blaenymaes Primary School.
Mrs Thomas said: "Flying Start is starting to have a real, positive impact on children.
"When they go to school they are ready to learn and more confident at mixing with other children. Recent evidence shows that Flying Start parents report seeing positive changes in their child's behaviour and that their confidence as a parent has increased."